clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Definition of clumsy

1a : lacking dexterity, nimbleness, or grace clumsy fingers
b : lacking tact or subtlety a clumsy joke
2 : awkward or inefficient in use or construction : unwieldy a clumsy contraption criticized her sentence for its clumsy construction

Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ ˈkləm-​zə-​lē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \ adverb
clumsiness \ ˈkləm-​zē-​nəs How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clumsy

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of clumsy in a Sentence

I'm sorry about spilling your wine—that was very clumsy of me. I have very clumsy hands and tend to drop things. She made a clumsy attempt at a joke.
Recent Examples on the Web Russia has been clumsy and has suffered for it, but there is no indication that Mr. Putin will back down and accept defeat. Zalmay Khalilzad, WSJ, 16 Mar. 2022 Others say that while the company’s messaging around the Florida law was clumsy, they have largely felt supported as LGBTQ employees within Disney. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Mar. 2022 The whole device strikes me as a clumsy way for Sorkin to deliver some expository dialogue that was probably superfluous anyway. Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2021 Xi'an officials' execution of the citywide shutdown has been clumsy and heavy-handed. Fortune, 7 Jan. 2022 Gutiérrez was booked five minutes into the match for blocking an Orlando free kick, then picked up his second yellow card less than 40 minutes later for a clumsy — albeit soft — foul. Jeremy Mikula,, 9 Apr. 2022 Unfortunately, many of the most obvious ways to carry skis are clumsy, painful, and potentially hazardous. Bill Gifford, Outside Online, 24 Feb. 2022 To the extent that Washington was actively engaged with Europe on Russia, the effort was mostly a stupid and clumsy one, focused on hectoring the Germans about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and trying to bully them into abandoning the project. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 24 Mar. 2022 But Shapiro has apologized for the clumsy and offensive phrasing, and error isn't grounds for discipline or dismissal. Damon Linker, The Week, 2 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clumsy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of clumsy

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clumsy

probably from obsolete English clumse benumbed with cold

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Time Traveler for clumsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for clumsy


clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Kids Definition of clumsy

1 : lacking skill or grace in movement clumsy fingers
2 : awkwardly or carelessly made or done a clumsy apology a clumsy error
3 : awkward to handle a clumsy package

Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ -​zə-​lē \ adverb
clumsiness \ -​zē-​nəs \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on clumsy

Nglish: Translation of clumsy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clumsy for Arabic Speakers


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